By Lowell Reese
The soaring cost of public employee pensions in Kentucky has become a major societal issue.
The debate is about more than the security of a retirement livelihood for public servants. The standard of living of all Kentuckians is at stake. Diverting money from essential government services, such as education and public safety, to keep the pension funds solvent is badly draining the budgets of state and local governments.
The state’s six retirement systems have a collective unfunded liability of $33.7 billion, one of the most unsound pension systems in the nation. The Great Recession didn’t cause this overwhelming debt, nor did the failure of the General Assembly in recent years to make its full payments – as claimed by some of those crying out for enactment of Senate Bill 2 as the panacea for all pension woes.